02/17 18:17 CST The Latest: Daytona 500 turns into wreck-fest in final laps
The Latest: Daytona 500 turns into wreck-fest in final laps
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) --- The Latest on the Daytona 500 (all times local):
The Daytona 500 has turned into a wreck-fest. "The Great American Race" had
five crashes and two red flags over the final 20 laps of regulation. The race
is now headed to overtime.
Denny Hamlin will lead Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch to the green and
white flags. Defending Cup Series champion Joey Logano and Michael McDowell
also are in the mix.
"The Big One" came late in the Daytona 500.
Paul Menard triggered a 21-car accident shortly after a restart with 10 laps to
go in "The Great American Race."
Menard turned Matt DiBenedetto, who slammed into the wall and started a
chain-reaction that collected more than two dozen cars. It brought out a red
flag that stopped the race for a lengthy cleanup.
Menard says "I'll take the blame for that one."
Defending Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Aric
Almirola and Daniel Suarez were among those involved in the mess.
Almirola seemingly had the wildest ride, his back wheels getting lifted off the
pavement and landing on David Ragan's windshield.
Jimmie Johnson's chances of winning a third Daytona 500 ended with a strange
accident on pit road.
Johnson was running near the front of the field and trying to pit when Cody
Ware and his Rick Ware Racing teammate B.J. McLeod started a wrecked that
damaged Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet.
Ware and McLeod collided and started sliding across the track. They slammed
into Tyler Reddick, who got sideways and smashed into Johnson. Ricky Stenhouse
Jr. also was involved.
Johnson's car sustained significant damage to the left rear, including around
the fueling area.
It was the third accident for Johnson in as many races during Speedweeks. He
turned Paul Menard in the exhibition Clash, starting a 17-car crash, and then
made an error and wrecked Kyle Busch in a qualifying race Thursday.
Ryan Blaney was on the money in the second stage of the Daytona 500.
The Team Penske driver pulled his No. 12 Ford into the team's pit stall with a
$5 bill stuck to the grill. That could have paid for a hot dog at the Daytona
Penske's crew flashed the cash for a photo on Team Penske's Twitter page.
Blaney had one of the fastest cars in the 2018 season opener, leading a
race-high 118 laps, winning a stage and finishing seventh. He also won the
second stage in Sunday's race.
Ryan Blaney has won the second stage of the Daytona 500, showing the same kind
of speed he did in last year's "Great American Race."
Blaney had one of the fastest cars in the 2018 season opener, leading a
race-high 118 laps, winning a stage and finishing seventh.
He made his way to the front early in the second stage Sunday and held on for
William Byron was second, followed by Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski and Ricky
Casey Mears, racing in the Cup Series for the first time in two years, was the
only driver out of the 200-lap opener.
Kyle Busch has won the first stage of the Daytona 500, making an impressive run
through the 40-car field after starting 31st.
Alex Bowman was second, followed by defending Cup Series champion Joey Logano,
Daniel Suarez and Ryan Blaney.
The end of the stage came a few laps after Kurt Busch, Bubba Wallace, Jamie
McMurray and defending Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillion were involved in a
The first caution of the race came after Corey LaJoie blew a right-front tire
and wrecked his face. Yes, his face. The front of LaJoie's No. 32 Old Spice
Ford featured a picture of his face and beard. It was mangled after the
flapping rubber from the blown tire ripped up sheet metal.
Kurt Busch, Bubba Wallace, Jamie McMurray and defending Daytona 500 champion
Austin Dillion were involved in the first crash of the Daytona 500.
Busch appeared to get loose in Turn 2 while passing Ricky Stenhouse Jr. about
50 laps into "The Great American Race."
Busch, Wallace and McMurray managed to get their cars to pit road for repairs.
Wallace and McMurray seemed to sustain the most damage.
Joe Gibbs Racing and Fox Sports have paid tribute to late JGR co-founder J.D.
The team and the television network recognized Gibbs during the 11th lap of the
Team owner Joe Gibbs closed his eyes during the tribute. Crew members stood
atop the pit road wall and held up a banner remembering Gibbs and all he did
for the team. Fox showed a picture of J.D. Gibbs smiling.
Gibbs' favorite number was 11, the car number Denny Hamlin has driven for the
team since 2005.
The eldest son of Joe Gibbs died last month following a long battle with a
degenerative neurological disease. He was 49.
Hamlin is dedicating this NASCAR season to J.D.'s memory. The younger Gibbs
discovered Hamlin at a late-model test at Hickory Motor Speedway in North
Carolina in the early 2000s.
Hamlin's charity is donating $111 to the J.D. Gibbs Legacy Fund for each lap he
leads in the No. 11 Toyota in 2019.
The Daytona 500 is underway, with William Byron leading the 40-car to the green
The 21-year-old Byron and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman, 25, made
up the youngest front row in the 61-year history of the "The Great American
Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray and Casey Mears had to drop to the back of the
field because of unapproved changes to their cars. Larson and Mears changed
transmissions; McMurray went to the back of the field because of a rear gear
J.J. Watt used an offseason film session to prepare for the Daytona 500.
The Houston Texans star and Daytona 500 grand marshal watched video of the last
decade of celebrities who kicked off the race with the most famous phrase in
motorsports. Watt said Dale Earnhardt Jr. had "tons of energy" during last
"I practiced in front of my girlfriend at home last night," Watt said. "She
gave me the thumbs up, so we're good to go guys."
Watt was raised in Wisconsin and said a seventh-grade teacher turned him onto
the sport, specifically former driver Dick Trickle. Watt said his teacher would
let the class know Trickle's results each week. Watt said he liked both
Earnhardts and Jeff Gordon, and could feel the excitement in Daytona.
"This track is huge. It's massive," Watt said.
Watt is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and well known for his
charity work with the Justin J. Watt Foundation, which provides after-school
opportunities for children. Following Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Watt set a goal
to raise $200,000 for recovery efforts in Houston. He ended up raising more
than $41 million, helping earn him the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
"I'm in a position where I get to play a game for a living and be compensated
very well to do it," Watt said. "We have a chance to use that platform to give
back and do good with it."
Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman could feel the buzz at the Daytona 500.
Edelman, sporting neatly trimmed facial hair, served as honorary starter and
was set to wave the green flag for Sunday's race. The New England Patriots star
receiver called NASCAR drivers "absolutely insane."
"It's a respect level for these guys, who are clearly adrenaline junkies,"
Edelman said. "Football players, we're missing screws. These dudes certainly
Edelman had his bushy beard clipped on a recent taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres
Show," with the trimmings used to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of
Edelman doesn't know if he'll grow the beard again to its rugged length again
next season. But he grew it by taking the advice of Patriots coach Bill
Belichick to heart.
"He says put everything in the draw and worry about it after football season,"
Edelman said. "So I put my razor in the draw and I worried about it after
Edelman earned Super Bowl MVP honors after catching 10 passes for 141 yards
while helping lift the Patriots to a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
NASCAR CEO Jim France says the France family remains committed to NASCAR.
"This sport was built by families," France said at the Daytona 500 drivers
meeting. "It's so important that we still remember this is still a family
business. Our family is committed to it."
There have been reports that suggested the France family was looking to sell
NASCAR, reports that have not been specifically addressed by the current
France has been visible at almost every NASCAR race since he took over last
August following the arrest of his nephew, Brian France. But he's mostly kept a
low public profile. He has offered no public insight as to how he plans to end
NASCAR's slump and has given no interviews during his six months at the helm.
France also encouraged drivers to make an exciting Daytona 500 after three
exhibition races produced lackluster racing and little excitement beyond a pair
of crashes Jimmie Johnson triggered.
"I hope a few of you drivers will get down on the bottom with Denny (Hamlin)
and Chase (Elliott) and make a show today," France said.
A.J. Foyt was thrilled to return to Daytona International Speedway.
The 84-year-old former Daytona 500 winner was happy to be anywhere, really.
"Hell, it's nice to be back instead of the funeral home," Foyt said.
Foyt won the 1972 Daytona 500 ---to go with his four Indianapolis 500
victories--- and said he was lucky to be born with the ability "to adapt myself
pretty quick" when it came to driving different kinds of cars throughout
Foyt said he's pretty much stepped back from the day-to-day operations of his
"I go in when they need money and raise hell," he said.
Foyt has battled heath issues of late and struggled to hear questions inside
the media room.
"I hate hearing aids 'cause when you go take a leak it sounds like 100 gallons
of water running," he quipped.
Country singer Jake Owen has been to the Daytona 500 a few times and knows what
to give fans for his pre-race concert.
"Hopefully, a damn good time," Owen said.
A native Floridian, Owen featured Daytona beach in his 2013 hit "Beachin.'"
Owen played golf with his friend Kevin Harvick on Saturday and picked the 2007
Daytona 500 champ to win it again.
"From what he told me, he's feeling pretty good about it," Owen said.
The track presented Owen with a custom-made Daytona 500 guitar. Late NASCAR
artist Sam Bass designed and painted it. Bass helped design paint schemes and
program covers that illuminated an entire sport. His death was announced
Saturday. He was 57.
Owen was touched by the gift that is believed to be the last guitar Bass made
before his death.
Kyle Larson will start the Daytona 500 from the rear of the field because of a
Larson's No. 42 Chevrolet had a transmission leak before practice Saturday. The
crew tried to fix it, but ended up swapping it out altogether.
Larson had been scheduled to start 26th in the 40-car field.
Jamie McMurray, expected to retire from full-time racing after the 500, also
went to the back of the field because of a gear change. McMurray won the 2010
Daytona 500 and had been slated to start 16th.
Casey Mears also went to the back because of a transmission change, but he
didn't have far to go. Mears was already starting last.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. can't step away from the Daytona 500.
Earnhardt won "The Great American Race" in 2004 and a decade later and has
stayed connected with NASCAR's season opener even in retirement. He is serving
as the honorary pace truck driver Sunday, the first time in race history a
truck will lead the field to the green flag.
Earnhardt was the grand marshal for last year's race and gave the command for
drivers to start their engines. Who knows, maybe next year Earnhardt can sing
the national anthem or work concessions.
"I'll try and find other odd jobs each year as we go forward," Earnhardt said.
Earnhardt retired after the 2017 seasons with 26 career Cup wins. He owns JR
Motorsports in the second-tier Xfinity Series and was back in victory lane
Saturday with driver Michael Annett. But Earnhardt, who also works for NBC
Sports, has enjoyed retirement with his wife and young daughter.
"I thought when I got out of the car, I'd miss it really bad and that would
kind of wane," Earnhardt said. "It's actually the other way around. When I got
around the car, it was 'Thank God, I'm going to have some time off.' I was just
so happy to be out from under that pressure. But as time goes on, you miss it
more and more and more, which was unexpected."
William Byron will start from the pole in the 61st running of the Daytona 500,
combining with teammate Alex Bowman to create the youngest front row in the
history of "The Great American Race."
Byron is 21, and Bowman is 25. Both are driving Chevrolets for Hendrick
Six Ford drivers will line up behind the Hendrick duo, including defending Cup
Series champion Joey Logano. He starts fourth, trying to become the first
reigning champ since Dale Jarrett in 2000 to win the season opener.
Defending race winner Austin Dillon starts from the 10th row in the No. 3
Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.
Eight drivers will make their Daytona 500 debuts, with most of them starting in
the back of the pack.
It's also the first Daytona 500 since 2011 that doesn't include a female
driver. Danica Patrick stepped away from NASCAR after last year's opener.
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